Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #51
Victoria BC
Copyright 2012 Craig Carmichael - May 4th, 2012


http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = http://www.ElectricHubcap.com = http://www.ElectricWeel.com

Month In Brief
(Summaries)
- New Planetary Gear type of Torque Converter - Battery Production, design - Motor Controllers at last (yay!) - Highlight: My Theory of "Thermomagnetism", and Self Turning Thermomagnetic Machines - Electric Cars are happening... so does my stuff have a place? - Black spots on a white background.

Electric Hubcap System
* Motor controller wiring improvements.
* Motor controller IR2133 V2 PCBs arrived; new motor controller made (works).
* New motor molded; made another new mold to further improve them.
* 13.8 Volt, 5 Amp chargers for NiMH powered systems: 30$ for a 36V, 5A charging system.

Mechanical Magnetic Mechanical Magnetic Impulse
Planetary Gear  Torque Converter Project
* Planetary Gear as a mechanical torque amplifier for indefinitely variable gear ratios (Eureka!)
* Types of Torque Amp Controls: manual clutch, centrifugal clutches, magnetic brake, generator brake
* Torque converter for Sprint car

Thermomagnetic drive devices
* Earth's magnetic field rotary device principle checked - but then... why not any magnetic field?
* Is that "perpetual motion"?
* Rationale: my theories of "thermomagnetism".
* A test to prove the theory - & a magnetic refrigerator.
* Thermomagnetic Machine ideas, designs, builds & tests.

Turquoise Battery Project
* ChangHong won't make any NiMn batteries because they have no track record - Yuk!
* Alternative Negative Electrode Construction - high conductivity, amenable to DIY.
* New positrode construction too

No Project Reports on: Weel motor, Sprint car conversion, Electric outboard from scratch, LED Lighting Project, DSSC solar cells, Pulsejet steel plate cutter



Newsletters Index/Highlights: http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/news/index.html

Construction Manuals and information:
Electric Hubcap Motor - Turquoise Motor Controller
- 36 Volt Electric Fan-Heater
- Nanocrystalline glass to enhance Solar Cell performance - Ersatz 'powder coating' home process for protecting/painting metal

Products Catalog:
 - Electric Hubcap Motor Kit
 - Sodium Sulfate - Lead-Acid battery longevity/renewal
 - NiMH Handy Battery Sticks
, Dry Cells
 - LED Light Fixtures
Motor Building Workshops


...all at:  http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/
(orders: e-mail [email protected])



April in Brief

   The path ahead on several valuable projects has at last become pretty clear, and it's frustrating that there's only the limited time and energy of a single person to develop and exploit them all. People say in effect, "Wow, great stuff, how can you lose?" Yet getting anything to happen seems to be an uphill struggle. And I'm still no salesman - how can all my fine products not sell?
   Someone I thought could be a partner in the LED lighting has done nothing. I obviously need to do myself the Energy Star legwork I expected him to do - two more months have elapsed with no action.
   Changhong batteries too has thrown the ball back into my court until I can provide them with long term performance and cycling data on 2 volt NiMn alkaline batteries - that are all their parts except for the Mn negative electrodes. This will take me months instead of getting fine new 2 volt alkaline batteries immediately on the market with existing production equipment.
   Well! Near the end of the month, someone said he wants to try out an electric hubcap outboard motor, for trolling on a 30' trawler - a 2 HP "Minkota" submerged motor didn't quite have what it takes. Since it's low speed travel, the Honda outboard with the new version motor - and with the low pitch prop - should be suitable. For later I'm thinking a toothed belt "outboard from scratch", with two outside rollers pushing the belt together at the "ankle" of the foot, would allow a thin profile leg under the water and would be more efficient and quieter than the chain drive I was thinking of.
   Having committed the one good motor to the Honda outboard, I'm also making another motor. I made a better stator piece mold and am pleased with the new piece (lower left). Each motor gets more 'professional'. (Now if only I could stop the ilmenite in sodium silicate from flaking off the coils.)


Pieces for the new motor.

Torque Converter - new concept: Torque Amplifier


   After disappointing results with the magnetic impulse converter idea and then with a centrifugal clutch system on the motorbike, I came up with an idea based on an entirely new principle. AFAIK no one has ever managed to create a gear with a variable reduction ratio. Surprise! - There is a way to do it, with a common type of gear.

   A planetary gear has three elements. It can be used as a 'torque amplifier' somewhat akin to a three element tube or transistor electronic amplifier. The trick is to drive the sun gear and (using the ring gear and the planet gears assembly interchangeably as convenient) let one gear slip 'backwards' (compared to the other) at a controlled rate as the other gear turns 'forwards'. This slows the rotation of the gear that turns the driveshaft, since their ratios all relate to each other, thus raising the reduction ratio to any higher figure. This allows both high torque for squealing the tires or climbing gracefully up curbs and over parking lot bumpers (where the car will then hang up on its center), down to the gear's design ratio for highway speeds without excessive motor RPM.
   If the slip gear slips freely, the output won't move at all. If there's no slip, the designed ratio applies. If it slips at 3/4 speed, the output 'gear ratio' is quadruple, eg 12 to 1 instead of 3 to 1. Like the base of the transistor, it takes little energy to control the slip rate to control the reduction ratio.
   Once this new idea was established, potential ways to control the slippage of the ring gear soon came to light. One "magnetic brake" idea would even reduce the drive ratio towards 1 to 1 at highway speeds - "overdrive".
   The various ideas for controlling the slip proceeded in theory in my head combined with looking over various items of potentially fitting hardware. Another project took precedence, but I started construction of the simplest type on the 29th for the Sprint car, using a 10" V-belt pulley for a manual gear-slip clutch. A rope will tighten around it to reduce or stop the slip gear (planet assy) slippage. On the 30th I carefully ground the end of a 1" round shaft into a pentagon shape so it would fit into the 30 spline fitting on the ring gear, to drive the chain drive to the differential.
   The sun gear (goes on the motor shaft) will be the most difficult to fit, as it doesn't quite fit a 1" shaft, and also it has no spline or alignment key to keep it from slipping on the shaft. Also I need to finish the new motor to attach it to.

NiMn alkaline Battery Production

   The engineer at Changhong batteries was very interested in my idea for simply making 2 volt nickel-manganese cells from the same production line that they use to make flooded 1.2 volt nickel-iron, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride cells.
   But he wanted performance and cycling information that I can't supply without producing a practical Mn electrode myself, putting it in a Changhong NiFe battery in place of the iron, and running fairly extensive tests on it and charting readings over some months.
   Then some academic skeptics convinced him it probably wouldn't work -- and if it did it would have short cycle life. This double denouncement is typical unreasoned resistance to anything new by "experts" who think they already know everything, so there can be nothing new under the Sun. Evidently this is no different in China than anywhere else. It's easy to just ignore a new idea being put forward by - naturally - just one person, and if he persists in trying to explain it, just put him down as being a quack without making the mental effort to consider the issue fairly on its merits. A lot of creative people with fine new ideas and discoveries are accorded this treatment. If I pushed hard enough, I might just convince them to make a batch, but with no belief in it, they'd probably do a shoddy job somehow, eg, of the zinc plating, and without trying to figure out what went wrong, say "See, it doesn't work; you wasted our time." and then they'd be almost impossible to approach again.
   It's a vexatious delay and addition to my workload. All they would have to do is interrupt production of negative electrodes and make a small batch of them to see for themselves -- then either they've lost some bit of production and satisfied their curiosity, or they change the world. Jungner or Edison, the creators of their battery production system (they bought it from Varta in Germany), would have dug right in with enthusiasm.
   However, I also still want to make DIYable battery constructions, and now I expect to be able to make good Mn electrodes (read on) and get performance and cycling data, so I just said if it was too hard for them to make any to try for themselves, I'd get back to them in a few months when I've done the tests and got the results myself.

   I noticed an unusual type of electrode briefly mentioned in Alkaline Storage Batteries: copper and iron powders, pressed around a fine wire screen (a metric ton per square centimeter of pressure), and then sintered to fuse copper particles together. This made a porous, sintered iron electrode that wouldn't fall apart in a flooded cell, without needing a perforated metal outside casing. The sintered copper throughout gave it higher current capacity than the pocket cells.
   I'm going to try to do the same thing with zinc and manganese. (or zinc and MnO2?) With the 1% stibnite that I found makes Mn negatrodes work, of course. Zinc will need less pressure than copper and can be sintered in a regular oven. If it works, it would be the easiest for DIY, including for me, and it should have excellent conductivity. I ordered fine zinc powder.

   If that works, the last main hurdle for usable batteries will be a positrode with good conductivity. A rolled out sheet of grafpoxy had puzzlingly high resistance, making me doubt the value of an idea to make "grafABS" to make injection molded conductive ABS plastic pockets - square or rectangular cylinders or hollow plates, and minutely perforate them with the IR burning laser diode.
   Another idea occurred to me. Use the expanded graphite sheets I gave up on earlier, but in perf plastic pockets: Make tall, thin pockets, and cut 'bars' of the graphite sheets that would go along the back of the pocket from the bottom, out the top, and up through the lid of the cell. In this arrangement, as they swelled up inside the pocket after the cell was filled, they would (presumably) compress against the electrode substance more instead of loosening. The top of the each bar would get a hole through the lid, and a bolt through itself above, to make connections.

Motor Controllers (Yay!)

   Mid month the IR2133-V2 circuit boards finally arrived, beautifully done with solder masks and silkscreened component outlines and I.D.'s. I found a mistake (mine) and decided to add another pin improved for microcontroller overcontrol, so there'll be a "V3" board. But not before I've made a few V2 motor controllers - one for the Sprint, one for the Tercel, one for the outboard, one for the shop, and three for the big 15 KW Weel motor. (Yikes, that's seven, plus any I sell! These 10 circuit boards are going fast!) Ordering components was another grueling 4 hour session on line.
   On the 16th and 17th I re-fitted a previous controller chassis with the new board and parts, and on the 18th I ran a motor - *the* motor at the moment - with it. It worked great.

   On the 20th I proposed to a company by e-mail to convert a small ferry to electric using one of my motors and controllers inboard, and several solar panels on the roof. (They said no.) The same day a fisherman from Port Alberni phoned me asking about putting an electric motor on his 30' trawler for trolling, and I gave him a very similar proposal but with just two or three panels. The deal ended as an electric outboard to try out before committing to anything else.

   Someone said there were BLDC motor controllers, 42 volts, 120 amps, in the hobby shop for 220$, so I was wasting my time making my own. I went and looked. They did. But, first, it was just a small circuit board with a metal plate and some medium fat but very short wires. No chassis, no breaker & on-off switch or main fuses, no cable clamps... those would all be add-ons. Second, it was for short duty use, with no serious heatsinks. The seller said model airplane flights were maybe 10 to 20 minutes and he wouldn't try running it for an hour or two. Third, I suspect if it hit 45 volts or 150 amps it would blow. Mine can do to 60 volts, and could probably hit 200 or 300 amps for brief periods. And it's advanced "CRM" or "direct torque control".
   Compared to the hobby controller, the Turquoise BLDC Motor Controller is easily worth 500$ and more.

My theory of Thermomagnetism - Magnetic Motion Machines

   The project I put the torque converter on hold for - crazy as it seems at first - was a magnet machine that would keep turning itself. It stemmed from other ideas -- partly from the magnetic field drive for spacecraft idea and partly from an early attempt to make a magnetic torque converter, where it seemed my design would create perpetual propulsion. At the time, I thought surely I must have had something figured wrong. But here was the same conclusion popping up again when a similar idea was considered.

demo seen on the web...
   I've always been skeptical of 'perpetual motion', but magnetically and in theory I couldn't see why this wouldn't work: a push by magnetic repulsion (or attraction) in one direction, but no force in the other direction owing to mechanically holding each armature magnet above the main strength of the field until just before or after it passed a stator magnet.
   Among all the purported magnet machines I found on the web, most of which were probably phony, one both looked plausible and was simple enough to grasp the workings, and it worked essentially by this very principle. A magnetic piece, usually a ball, will accelerate down a "V" shaped magnetic ramp, either by attraction or repulsion, and shoot off the end. There are lots of videos of magnetic ramps working on youtube. This machine puts a "V" ramp onto a circular rotor, and a device pushes the stator magnet out of the way momentarily when passing the end/start point of the ramp, just when it would otherwise create an equal magnetic reverse force that would arrest the spinning at that point. Thus the cycle would repeat. As the animation [taken from a longer movie from which the still image is derived] shows, a smaller magnet at the bottom also jumps in half a cycle later - doubtless an extra kick is gained at that point. I'm guessing it doesn't quite keep turning without that. So, energetic as it looks in the animation, this design, assuming it does really work and isn't a fake, probably wouldn't put out more than a watt or two of useful energy without stalling, and the light forces only work because of very low friction. (Eg, note that the [low friction aluminum?] arm hits on what looks like a ball bearing race at the top rather than on the support itself, for lowest friction.)

   A friend who is involved with testing for the New Energy Congress said he's always fighting off 'perpetual motion' devices. He devised a "feather test": If the device stops moving with a feather rubbing on it, it's rejected as being unable to create a useful amount of energy. This is a good and pragmatic test, because it sets aside arguments about whether something is theoretically possible and separates demos, whether they work or not, from machines that can actually do useful work. He said that so far, none presented have passed the feather test.

   Back to the topic... here was something that magnetically looked theoretically possible - and that had been done and was being used according to some - but thermodynamically seemed theoretically impossible. I had heard no coherent, understandable explanation of where the apparent energy was supposed to be coming from. "Zero point energy" was no explanation for me. If these things worked as seemed magnetically possible, the energy must come from somewhere - but where?

   Last I heard, we see the effects: that magnets have force that can move certain materials, and we know the relationships between magnetism and electricity, but no one knows just what magnetism is or how it works.
   A key is that energy is neither created nor destroyed. So regardless of single versus 'perpetual' (cyclic) motion, where does magnetic force and energy come from in the first place? A stationary object appears energyless -- but it does have internal energy: its heat.

   My theory of thermomagnetism is that magnetism is a transfer of force and energy between the small scale vibrational motions of the atoms in the magnet - its heat - and the larger scale directional forces with the potential for creating large scale motion that we observe as magnetism. (How it does this I'll leave to the nuclear physicists.)
   If an object is pulled away from a magnet against its magnetic pull, or pushed towards it against its repulsion, the energy required to force that motion is transferred to increased vibrations within the atoms - in other words, the magnet is heated up.
   If an object is permitted to be pulled towards a magnet by its tug, or if it is permitted to be pushed away by its repulsion, the energy expended by the magnet in the pulling or pushing comes from the vibrations of the atoms: the magnet cools.

   The magnetic energy versus the heat energy would be an exact 1 to 1 correspondence, energy used pulling an object = heat energy lost within magnet.
   Normally the one time heating or cooling effect is imperceptible. But if the theory is right, I had the thought that one might be able to measure a temperature drop within the magnets as a self spinning machine continues to turn, especially if it was doing real work. I chanced to meet a coast guard vessel marine engineer who seemed very interested in such things on the 23rd. He said he had actually seen a small magnet machine that someone pulled out of his pocket. Set on a table, it started turning and just kept going. When I told him the theory, he said that people have observed that working magnet machines get cold, but that no one understands why. That certainly tied in nicely with the theory. Perhaps magnets in magnet machines need heat sinks... to keep them warm!

   He also said certain machines he'd heard of "warble" up and down as they turn horizontally, which sounded exactly like my "take 3" design. I devised a fairly simple test for the theory but haven't tried it. (in the detailed project writeup)

   There is precedent for this 'reversal of entropy': a refrigerator or heat pump extracts more heat energy from a cold object, transferring it to a warm object, than the energy used to effect the transfer. On the face of it, this "overunity" efficiency too might well sound impossible, and too good to be true. Except that we're familiar with it and we all know it works. A physicist said it's been calculated that as much as 1200% heat transfer could theoretically be gained with present types of systems. (Hmm... could you run a turbine with the transferred heat and have it power the heat pump? Yikes! - another potential means of creating 'perpetual motion'?)

   A practical magnet machine with substantial torque and power to do work of course would have broad implications. Free energy to make electricity would be always available, day or night, windy or calm, winter or summer. There seemed to be nothing for it but to make a machine and find out whether I had something figured out wrong, or if it could actually be made to keep turning. At least I had a theory to explain how it should work -- and if I was wrong, it would seem I at least have quite a bit of company. I figured I could afford a few days to try a few things out and I did. The design progressed with half built models which weren't completed to the point of operating, but which each helped conceptualize something better and progressively led from things that would have been demos to a design that attracted the armature pole as it approached a stator magnet, then flipped it as it passed, and repelled it afterwards. If indeed it worked, it would be likely to have enough torque to actually produce usable power. It would take a very large, stiff feather to stop. But the tricky pivoting parts wouldn't be made in a day and I thought of several variations on the theme by the end of the month. Better to work on other things for a bit, play around with the magnets by hand, and let the forming thoughts be attracted or repelled in my mind.

Electric Cars(!)

   Jim Harrington (doing the diamagnetics experiments on the Ecosat satellite that somehow got me started on the above), bought a Mitsubishi iMiEV on about the 12th. This time, they were right there on the lot - four of them - and he had no arguments or hassles. It was around 30000$ with a trade-in and a BC 5000$ incentive to buy a new EV or hybrid car. (I think the BC incentive program is actually working!) I expect 10,000 $ or more of the price could be attributed to the lithium ion batteries.
   On the 22nd we drove out to Goldstream Park marina in it to his electric outboard sailboat, and took a 3 hour cruise to check the performance of his system with lithium ion batteries in the sailboat. The car was lovely and had lots of power. The boat motor ran well as long as we kept the current under 40 amps (@36v=1.44KW=2HP of electricity), which was the limit of the lithium ion battery charge/discharge controller. It was a lovely, sunny, rare day's outing for me. I've never seen seals just floating out in the water sleeping with their flippers sticking up before. I thought they were two floating logs with branches. We were moving right along, but so quietly that we got pretty close before they lifted their heads and saw us.

   A former co-worker, a retired plumber, visited on the 16th. He had spent nearly 20,000$ converting an S10 pickup truck into a very nice electric vehicle, over a 3 month period with parts from Canadian Electric Vehicles and assisted by his son, and he's enjoying it very much. 4500$ of the cost was for 24 lead-acid golf cart batteries. He had stronger back springs installed to handle their weight. He retained the manual transmission. I got a ride. It was interesting that there was no need to put in the clutch to start, or while the truck was at rest, since both the vehicle and the motor were stopped. The clutch was only for shifting between 2nd, 3rd and 4th. (First gear was only for spinning rubber.) His motor was over 40 KW, delivering up to 32 HP. At one point we were drawing over 100 amps during acceleration per his handy little dial on the dash: at 144 volts, 14400 watts. He said it can go up to 300 amps.

   At the VEVA.ca Victoria meeting on the 18th, someone brought a Nissan Leaf and three of us got a ride.  There are evidently about a dozen of them around town now. The Leaf is a beautiful car, and very quiet. Stopped at a traffic light with the windows up, it was eerily silent inside. The acceleration from 0 to 50 Km/hr was astonishing - it would leave typical gas cars in the dust. The price tag was about 40,000 $.
   Also at the VEVA meeting was a great looking electric tricycle, brought by the maker. It had bicycle type wheels and a bicycle hub motor on the right rear wheel. One "feature" I didn't like was 3 "U" brackets going just around the tire on each back wheel. If he doesn't put on proper fenders to cover those, somebody's gonna lose or severely maul a finger in one. He said he doesn't make a lot of money on them, but he's doing what he likes to do.
   My friend and his son also put in an appearance with the electric pickup truck. (And the owner of the Leaf turned out to be a onetime plumber who had worked for the pickup owner's father long ago.)
   As usual I showed new people my 30 NiMH D cell car battery (the present six 6V pipes set is now about a year old and still working like new, which is (iirc) already better than my last lead-acid). And I showed some 12V LED car lights starting at 1$, a fraction of Victoria store prices, but nobody bought anything. (Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned they were "from dealextreme.com".) Oh well, I'll want many of the lights for the Sprint and all the batteries I presently have for whatever car I first electrify.

So if electric cars are taking off anyway, what's my stuff for?

   It's really great to see these things starting to happen, but the costs and the high powered systems, remind me why I'm doing this work. The torque converter alone (at last looking like a pretty sure bet), should eliminate much of the 30-40% loss of the typical automotive transmission as well as provide a high ratio to get a vehicle moving, so substantially less power will be needed for propulsion - 2/3 as much at most. This would drop the price of cars a by a few thousand dollars in batteries and motive power requirements as well as improve both low and high speed performance. For the pickup, it would immediately shave 1500 $ off the lead-acid batteries, and by dropping 1/3 of their weight and eliminating the transmission, it might have meant leaving the regular springs in, and a smaller motor and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, further reducing the overall cost.
   The Electric Hubcap wheel drive system as a whole would allow sizing still smaller batteries and the minimal 5KW motor size - for a typical day's city driving rather than a maximum range (since the gas engine can take over for longer trips and on the highway), further reducing the battery cost and added weight.
   Then of course a cheap, high energy density battery would be just the thing for any EV system and for off-grid storage as well. Presently NiMH dry cell battery sticks are little if at all cheaper than lithium types. Nickel-manganese from ChangHong looks very promising as a first offering using one of my chemistries if I can get them convincing performance and cycling data from homemade electrodes. Those might cost about 300 $/KWH - not a lot more than lead-acid for a much lighter battery that should last much longer, and about 60% of the price of NiMH dry cells or lithium ion types. Mildly alkaline permanganate-manganese will be best of all and cheapest if I get good electrode constructions, and if the permanganate positrodes prove to have have a long cycle life. (Nickel manganate-manganese would also be pretty economical if the permanganate has problems.)
   And then, if the magnet machine proves to work and to be practical, it changes everything again. Not to think of all the other potential uses, a car needing no external power may need only a few batteries for when a surge of power is required - or maybe even none at all. Could it even replace the electric drive motor? (Hah! NO WAY will it replace the torque converter!)

The White Background

   The seemingly perplexing lack of action on renewable energy and electric transport got me going on the green energy projects. That started waking me up to the evil forces frustrating the progress that everybody wants in principle, tho so many seem indifferent to. Only a few are deliberately hostile. The black spots often get me indignant, but it must be remembered that they're just black spots on a white background, not the other way around. And lights are being shone on them, exposing them to increasing public scrutiny and criticism for eventual correction. Forgiveness, mercy and enlightenment to those who today foolishly perpetuate the problems without a thought for others, the future, or their own real best interests. Let's all start pulling together. ("Do you not realize that the hope of a better nation — or a better world — is bound up in the progress and enlightenment of the individual?" - Jesus)
   From a broad perspective, evils of a century ago, or farther back, could hardly take place again in a similar way because we've evolved beyond them. In the 1960's fish returned to the Thames river after a century's absence due to pollution, and I hear lake Erie has largely returned to health. (thanks largely to the invasive Black Sea mussels filtering the water.) Recycling is replacing open ended dumping and use of materials leaving deleterious wastes is decreasing.
   Spiritual, cultural, scientific and technical progress can be thwarted for brief periods, even a century, but they continue progressing even unseen and arise again to be adopted in new forms. Our vast and accumulating knowledge base can hardly again be burned and lost with worldwide dissemination and storage of information. Let us transcend present problems with all the newly appearing sustainable technologies and with new, superior organizational structures.
   Various means of harvesting energy are proliferating and, along with the upcoming world population decline, there will surely be abundance for all. Today's evils will be gone in another fifty years or a century and the races will have moved far towards social and physical sustainability and human brotherhood. Often in fits and starts, and often painfully, the world progresses. The universes were created to evolve towards perfection; that isn't their starting condition.



Electric Hubcap Motor System

   The motor on the motorbike, a 2011 prototype, didn't seem to run very well for the magnetic impulse torque converter test at the start of the month. A couple of days later, I tried swapping phase wires around. Yep. That was the problem. It ran great once they were right. It's funny it can run well enough to fool you in two of the six possible combinations of wires.
   That means the magnetic converter didn't really get a very proper test. At first I thought I might try it again sometime with a modified design, but the planetary gear torque amplifier would seem to be the way to go. There may be some magnetic way to accomplish the same thing, but I haven't figured anything like it out.

   The prototype motor got munched by sudden transverse force in the next test with a centrifugal clutch. The molds for future motors had already been improved. I made a couple of additional improvements - a better mold already planned, and a change to the rotor compartment so the 'corner' where magnets were getting out if they came loose was now the sealed side, with the joint in the outer corner, behind the magnet rotor.
   I have a couple of prototype motor shells, but I guess I won't use them. I might be able to cut down some of their plates to the new slightly smaller size and use them as rotor ends since they'd be the same (except for having oddly placed [but usable] vent holes). That would reduce the waste of pricey epoxy.

Motor Controller: Battery Wire Clamp Assembly

   I had made a copper bus with a clamp to connect from the fuses to the main supply bus inside the motor controller. But before the power would get to that point, it was now bothering me that for the motorbike unit with (so far) no internal breaker or solenoid that the power wire bolted to, unless the battery wire was clamped to the motor controller chassis, it was only held in place by the fuses connecting it. If the fuses pulled out (and there was nothing but friction to prevent it), the main battery wire, unfused, could touch anything - BLAM! I didn't want to use it any longer in that condition, much less supply such units to anyone else.
   Even where there was a breaker, switch or solenoid/contactor relay terminal to clamp the battery leed to, the connection at the fuses, albeit short and internal, was floating around loose. So I set out to make something better.

   After considering things like making a copper plate (that would need a torch to solder the fuse holders to), I simply unsoldered one of the four fuse holders, drilled and threaded a hole in the plastic under it, and put a machine screw through the hole in the copper bar into the plastic. Three 40 amp fuses instead of four is plenty for the motorbike. Good enough!
   For the next one, however, I made flat #18 guage nickel-brass plates, with the heavy wire clamp on one end, and with two more holes (total 6) for four fuses and two hold-down bolts. Nickel-brass is stiffer than copper, so the #18 wasn't too thick to solder to.

IR2133 V2 Circuit boards arrive, & 'new' motor controller

   After not hearing again from the circuit board company, in March I had had a new idea: Since they couldn't seem to read the attachments in my e-mails, I gave them the web link to the design where I had posted it on my web site. They had no trouble with that. I wish I'd thought of it long ago.
   On April 10th the long sought boards arrived. I had only asked for double sided, but they did solder masks and a silkscreen layer with the part outlines and numbers as well. Beautiful and very useful! There's less chance I'll make a mistake putting on the parts. Since the boards are so much cheaper from this Chinese maker, I'll have them done that way from now on...and stop putting text on the top copper layer.

   A couple of days later I decided I should make one up. First I put some parts on the board to see what I needed to order besides the 74ALS86 SOIC XOR gates. Then I did a little editing of the PC board - already I can see a version 3 will be desirable. Worst feature: a trace I hadn't re-routed after moving a part was shorted to a pin. Rats! I'll just cut the traces and hard-wire it for these 10 boards. Anyway, nice to notice it before trying to run it!
   Then I got on line for a grueling 3-1/2 hour session ordering parts at Digikey Electronics. I was somewhat perturbed to discover the IR2133 MOSFET gate drivers are now over $15. Maybe somebody's using my design and the demand is high? - there was interest on a motor controller list, and I did put the design on the web. Perhaps I'm not even the first to make my own PC boards?

   I spent the 16th, and a little time on the 17th, putting the new controller together in an old chassis. Most everything had to be moved, redone or just done, so I didn't save much work over building a new one from scratch except the sheet metal fabrication. (Even there, a chassis side piece had somehow gone missing.) I made new style wire clamps and a fuse "platform" on plexiglass. On the 18th I tried running the one working motor, and after a few hiccups, it worked great. (2 diodes that went bad, and crossed phase wires. I threw out the rest of those diodes. Someone gave them to me long ago. Always look gift components in the mouth.) I didn't do extensive tests. For a change I checked the RPM. With only 24 volts instead of 36 I could get the motor over its design speed of 2000 RPM. Yikes! What horrendous speed was the one going that flew apart at 42 volts?

   Someone said he thought I was reinventing the wheel: the hobby shop had similar motor controllers for 220$. I went and looked. The largest controller they had was indeed rated 42 volts, 120 amps for large model airplane motors. However, the salesman expressed doubt that it would work for driving a car. He said the airplanes might fly for 10 or 15 minutes - he wouldn't try running it for an hour. "Hobby use versus industrial." he shrugged. Nor would I trust such a small unit on the road. In addition, while I'm calling it "40 volts at 130 amps", I've used 48+ battery volts, and they'd probably take well over 250 amps momentarily. There are enough unpleasant external surprises on the road without adding internal ones. I wouldn't be surprised if the hobby shop board would blow in a moment at 45 volts or 150 amps, and it didn't have a heat sink capable of dissipating the heat of sustained high power operation.
   Aside from that, the Turquoise Motor Controller comes in a heavy duty aluminum chassis wiring box and includes a breaker-switch, fuses, and optionally a solenoid to turn on the power remotely. Theirs is just a circuit board and all the other parts have to be added externally - it would all add up to maybe 400$ plus labor. This makes 500$ for my heftier premade unit seem like quite a reasonable price.

New Electric Hubcap Motor - With Layout Improvement

   By the 23rd, with two working motor controllers now on hand, I started getting concerned that if I managed to sell a system, I would have no working motor. Soon someone did in fact want to try out an Electric Hubcap Outboard, which has pre-empted this motor. I was up in the air whether to work on the torque converter or the magnet machine. Instead I molded a new stator end piece for a new motor and thought about the next steps on the others. (150g PP cloth; 600g epoxy. This is the plate that takes the stress of the magnets pulling towards the stator, so I'm making them pretty thick.)
   Then I made a new mold for the center ring piece, with bumps for the coil centers but no shoulder around them. The coils will definitely be affixed in place on both plates, and the slight overhangs of wire will face out, while the cores will butt right up against the center ring as close as possible to the magnet rotor.


New inner stator plate outer face mold
1" thick x 12" x 12" 'butcher block' UHMW polyethylene, made on 26th

   I think I'll use for both stator plates - it'll hold the heavy #11 wires on the coils better.

   Some reinforcement ribs might also be feasible... hmm, another new good idea! Will I ever have a final design? But I couldn't see anywhere substantial ribs would fit on this inside piece. On the outside of the outside piece might be a good place. If it had some stiff ribs, I might trim 100 grams off it in thickness and still have the desired stiffness.

   On the 27th I made the piece in the new mold, using 100g polypropylene "landscaping" cloth and 400g of epoxy - thinner than the outer piece because it takes less stress and because its thickness sets the minimum distance the magnet rotor can be from the tops of the coils. Since the present motor can easily be overrevved, it would be nice to reduce the gap, decreasing speed and increasing available torque. This piece should allow a gap as thin as is magnetically practical anyway, about 1/2".

   I found a magnet rotor already zinced and polyurethaned. Among some plywood reinforcing pieces for the molds I found also a rotor end piece I must have made a while back. That's two more little motor making jobs done. So the last molding job is the outside circumference of the rotor compartment, and in fact it will be the first one done from scratch with the mold setup made for that.


Pieces for next motor

   First I have to decide where to locate the holes in the stator plates. Originally, the coil holes went at left and right inner edges of the toroid cores to keep them in place (at least left and right - in and out there was some undesirable free play). Now with the composite buttons keeping the coils in exact position, the bolts could be closer to the centers of the cores, and the extra thickness of the buttons gives more material to screw them into. (Metal nuts by the spinning rotor magnets are undesirable.) A few more bolts at the inside and outside edges of the plates wouldn't hurt either, if space can be found to place them.
   Then I have to calculate all those hole positions and set it all up as a CNC drill program. Sigh - I could use some CAD/CAM software.

Remake of the Honda Outboard motor

   A fisherman was interested in putting an Electric Hubcap motor on his 30' trawler. But if it proved to have insufficient thrust for trolling or the project otherwise proved unworkable, it would be a considerable wasted investment in time and effort to install and remove.
   Instead we decided I should put the electric outboard back together, and he should make an outboard mounting on the back of the boat. If it didn't work out, I'd still have the outboard and he'd have a mount for any small outboard.

   A glitch to the program was that the original motor had a 9" rotor and was a little smaller than the later units, and it was an open frame with no case. It just fit under the Honda hood. The new motors don't quite make it.
   Somewhere in the process of trying to fit the motor, I found that most of the surprisingly strong gear noise in the previous version was because the motor was pressing down on the drive shaft. If it didn't press down, it was quiet.

5 Amp NiMH Battery Chargers!

   A while back I bought ten 12 volt, 5 amp power adapters with 'cigarette lighter' output cords at XS Cargo for 3.99 $ each. One thought was to use them for 12V LED lighting. Another was to convert some to 13.8 volts for 12V NiMH constant voltage battery chargers.
   This month I opened one, found the specs on a tiny surface mount "shunt regulator" IC inside (that I didn't even see at first - a "programmable zener diode" I'd call it) on the bottom of the PCB, and, seeing how it worked (praise the web), I changed a resistor for one with a slightly lower value. That changed the voltage to 14.1. Bingo! I bought a package of resistors to give the exact voltage and made three on the 28th. I put a .27 Ω resistor in the output to limit current for quite discharged batteries so they don't shut it down or blow it.

   I think I'll cut off the cigarette lighter sockets and put on small (30 A) APP plugs, where plug and socket are identical and the pins on both sides, battery and charger, are recessed. (The APP parts cost me slightly more than the power adapters themselves did.)

   Three triple 12 V chargers for three 36 volt, 5 amp Electric Hubcap system/NiMH battery charging units will use up 9 of the 10. I'll want them all - nothing left to sell. One for house LED lighting will finish them up. All for 45$!  At the time I didn't know if I really could change the voltage. If I'd checked into converting them right away, I'd have known I wanted them and bought about 30 while the opportunity was there.



Mechanical
Magnetic

Mechanical
Magnetic Impulse
Planetary Gear
Torque Converter Project


The Motorbike Centrifugal Clutch Test

   The installation of the centrifugal clutch with the 10 tooth sprocket gear went amazingly smoothly in just one afternoon on April 4th. I ground a bit of a slot in the axle to accommodate the built-in shaft keys on the clutch with the angle grinder without taking the motor off the bike. That went well. I left the output drum slightly off-center. A steel tube I happened to have handy proved to be the exact size and wall thickness needed (!) to make a shim for the input, and in a can I even found the right size shaft collar to hold the assembly on. And I finally figured out how to adjust the chain - by moving the back wheel ahead or back a bit. I became uneasy about how well and smoothly the making was going. That surely meant something would go wrong in the test. Was I becoming superstitious?


Anyway it looked good


Centrifugal clutch assembly on motor.
The black output drum was mounted slightly off center.

   Then I spent a day (6th) improving the motor controller and making a nice battery box and more 6v battery sticks to have two banks of 36 volts. (See NiMH project.)

   The test on the 7th was a disaster. The motor was turning faster than I thought it should need to before the clutch cut in. That's probably because it was made for high RPM gas engines. Suddenly everything jammed to a stop. The motor was broken and 9 of 12 magnets had come off the rotor. This was the oldest prototype motor having the polypropylene-epoxy housing pieces, and it had an old car disk brake rotor instead of a flat rotor, dating back to the lossy metal stator plate designs.
   I pieced together the most likely scenario the next day. The clutch probably suddenly grabbed and the chain yanked tight, pulling the axle sideways. I've been a bit nervous about using this earlier prototype motor with the culvert pipe outside cover - if it's yanked sideways hard enough, the cover and axle could be shifted off-center, enough that the magnets would hit the stator. Of course, a chain drive does exert sideways force (duh!) and letting out a clutch engages that drive suddenly. Examining the scrapes in the stator ring and the paint from that ring on the top of some magnet surfaces indicates that this is probably what happened. The newer molded rotor ring casings solve this problem, so it shouldn't happen again. But I'll have to make another motor (or two) because now I only have one.

   So far, principles of operation for a torque converter had consisted of trying to create momentary high torque pulses with little or no torque between, wherein the motor recovers its speed. Some of these means have been mechanical, others magnetic. A major problem has been finding a system where the motor isn't held stalled if it moves too slowly into a "torque pulse zone" or comes to rest in one.
   Thoughts about centrifugal clutches as a means of obtaining momentary high torque that would disengage if the motor couldn't keep its speed up, continued and branched out, and I came up with more than one new plan for coupling motors to wheels. Then a fantastic idea emerged: a torque converter based on a different operating principle entirely.

Planetary Gear as Torque Amplifier!

   First, an example of an amplifier that everyone is familiar with: the triode vacuum tube. This has three elements: cathode (or filament), grid, and anode. A big flow of power, of electrons flying through the vacuum between the glowing cathode and the anode, is controlled by varying a low voltage using almost no power on the third element, the control grid between them. (This electron beam is of course the origin of the term "electronics".) The electrons would happily flow from the cathode to the positively charged anode, but if the grid has sufficiently negative voltage, it repels the cathode's electrons back, and there's no flow. If it's not negative enough, or is positive, the electrons are attracted to the much higher positive voltage of the anode beyond, and flow to it. In between "off" and "on", small changes to the suppressing grid voltage, using trivial power, make large changes to the main current flow - amplification.


Planetary gear: Left: Sun Gear; Center: Planet Gears Assembly (may have 3, 4, or 5 gears); Right: Ring Gear.

   Planetary gears also have three elements: Sun gear, Ring gear, and Planet gears assembly. Usually one of these is held in fixed position, and a fixed ratio of torque conversion is attained between the other two. With my Chrysler transmission planetary, if the sun gear is driven and the ring gear is stationary, the planets assembly turns 1/2.8 times as fast as the sun gear. If instead the planets assembly is held fixed, then the ring gear turns 1/1.8 times as fast as the sun -- and in the opposite direction.
   However, there is another possibility, in between these two: if the ring gear is permitted a limited constant backwards slip with some sort of variable clutch or brake, the output gear (planet assy) will turn... but more slowly than the indicated ratio.
   The energy to control the slippage should be small compared to that being controlled.
   I haven't figured out the losses. If the ring gear is allowed to turn backwards freely, there's no energy loss. Also none transmitted to the planets assembly - it (and the car) remains stopped. The electron beam is "off". If the gear is held stopped, there's also no energy loss. The beam is full "on", and the planets assembly turns at the 2.8 to 1 ratio. Half way between is perhaps the largest frictional loss owing to slippage. But the slipping gear is being permitted to slip backwards. I don't think the energy loss will be large. Then, depending on the design ratio and when the ring stops slipping, those losses might well only apply to start the vehicle moving and during more rapid acceleration below about 20, 30 or 40 Km/hr.

   The slipping of the third element is the control voltage on the grid of the tube. Controlling the negative slip controls the gear ratio of the main power transmission anywhere between approximately a zillion to one and the fixed ratio. Either the ring gear or the planet gear assembly can be the slip gear, and the other the output gear, as is convenient. For one, the motor will run in reverse direction to the other. So what?

   Unless I have something figured entirely wrong, herein is the essence of a fantastic torque converter! This will move cars. (It may have taken me 3 frustrating years to figure it out, but AFAIK nobody else has done so. Persistence pays. I see nothing like it on the web.)


Planetary gear as it previously attached motor to Tercel wheel, planets assembly set to move it via turning the wheel lug nuts.
It should have worked, and may yet work, by allowing a controlled slip of the ring gear
to provide an infinitely variable ratio instead of a fixed 2.8 to 1.

   There's one more mode of operation: if any two of the gear elements are locked together, none will turn relative to each other, so they turn as a single unit at 1 to 1 drive ratio. This becomes significant for certain forms of slippage controls.
   Applying a controlled slip to one 'output' gear (planets or ring gear) to use the other as the drive shaft output, can be done in a number of ways.

Ring gear slip techniques

manual clutch

   First I think I'll try the simplest and probably surest design on the Sprint car: a manual clutch/brake that releases the slip gear to spin freely, or tightens to hold it stopped.
   This has no slippage and the exact design gear ratio when the gear is held stopped, as it would be above perhaps 20, 30 or 40 Km/hr except during rapid acceleration in city speed ranges.

   If as I expect I can spin the wheels on the Sprint or if it lunges into motion when I hit the electron pedal, it'll probably also be sufficient for the Tercel wheel even without the Sprint's 4 to 1 reduction. (And the Sprint's reduction can be reduced or even made unity.) If somehow I have it figured out wrong and it's another failure, or if the implementation needs improvement to make it work... well, I'll find that out with the least amount of building - I think.

   (I keep wishing I had finished making that pulsejet steel plate cutter to make new steel rotors and odd shaped parts at will instead of taking the design somewhere out of town, putting the project on hold while it's made for me, and then driving back again to pick it up. Then repeating the process when I find it doesn't fit quite as expected.)

centrifugal clutch

   The next step up might be to use a centrifugal clutch. But a question is: between what and what? A centrifugal clutch to a fixed drum is going to have slip at all times, since as it latches it slows, the centrifugal force reduces, and it's released again. The gear would always be slipping backwards proportionally to the torque required. Putting it between the sun gear (motor, with the centrifugal part) and the ring gear (as the slip gear, with the drum part), with the planets assembly as the output, would have them slipping until everything was turning at 1 to 1 speed. This would be good with a bigger, lower RPM motor, but either leaves the units slipping most of the time or limits motor speed more than desired, unless a further 2 to 1 or so reduction follows the converter. A reduction is already done under the hood on the Sprint, but would be tricky for a wheel mounted motor.
   An alternative could be to mount one element on another gear , so that at the desired ratio, both elements are spinning the same speed. This would be complicated.
   Thus the seemingly obvious choice of a centrifugal clutch seems to break down under scrutiny - except maybe in the Sprint or similar conversions. There it might be worth a try at some point.

magnetic brake

   After figuring out these mechanical means of controlling the slip of the ring gear - manually or centrifugal - I thought that the same thing might be accomplished magnetically, with a magnetic brake. Here the loads should be lower than for using magnets directly, making it feasible. Interestingly, this would harken back to my first attempted magnetic torque converter and could even use the same aluminum braking plate. Undesirably unless it proves to have trivial loss for most driving, there would always be a certain amount of slip.
   For the 'simple clutch', one element - the braking plate or the magnet rotor - could be fixed with the other on the slipping gear. But if they were mounted on two opposite turning elements, at high speed and low torque the entire assembly could be moving forward, the ring gear element slipping back less than the output speed. This would provide a reduction ratio headed for 1 to 1, smaller than the fixed ratio of the planetary gear. This again might load the motor more than desired.
   As the results are less certain than for the manual clutch, I'll save these ideas for later.

controlled generator

   On the 10th having coffee with friends, someone had a brilliant idea: use the slipping gear to turn a generator, which would put the waste energy back into the batteries. I wasn't sure there would be enough waste energy to worry about, but it sounded simple enough mechanically.
   Electrically, the rate of generation, controlling the amount of slip, has to balance the desired conversion ratio at different speeds.
   Somehow I still have the Sprint's alternator, and a loose engine pulley for it (that fits over the planetary's ring gear). These take a ribbed belt. Again it would be tricky to mount on a wheel, but on the Sprint it might work fine. It's another variant to try at some later date, after proving with the manual clutch that the conversion system works in the first place. And after seeing if the slippage losses are significant enough to worry about.

   The planetary gear torque converter now seems like the obvious way to use the Hubcap motors to drive any wheeled vehicle. Unless I've missed something it seems it can hardly fail except via poor implementation. (I do find implementation of mechanical designs tricky - witness some of my failures.)

Sprint Car Test Model


Checking the fit.  Great... say, where'd the motor go?

   For a first test version, I decided to put a manual clutch/brake on the slipping gear (planets) with a large V-belt pulley having a rope looped around it. The tension on the rope, and hence the friction and slip, would be controlled by the driver via a clutch pedal or lever. Other types of control can be tried later.
   On the 29th I found an appropriate 10" V-belt pulley at Princess Auto - one with a single steel plate for the body, so it could be bolted to something next to it. I drilled 6 holes in this, and 6 (threaded) holes in the planet assembly of a different model of planetary gear (the Chrysler transmission had two different ones). This gear seemed a good pick for this because the planet assembly had six tabs that stuck out beyond everything else, to drill holes in and bolt to. It also had a closed end on the ring gear.
   The pulley was thus the easy part. The output shaft attachment is for a splined shaft. I actually have the shaft, but it won't fit anything else except the gear. There are 30 splines, so I thought I might be able to grind the end of a 1" shaft to a pentagon and insert it, if I was very careful to get it perfect. I accomplished this on the afternoon of the 30th, spending quite some time fitting it.
    At the other end, the sun gear isn't quite the right inside size for the 1" motor shaft, and doesn't have a key or splines or anything to lock it onto the shaft. That'll be the trickiest part.
   And finally a rope, fastened at one end, has to loop around the pulley and then go somewhere to some clutch lever or pedal. Being (formerly) an "automatic", the car has no clutch pedal for it... auto wrecker?
   Let's see... Since the 'clutch' will be in 'some slippage' mode at low speeds, perhaps it would be better if it could simply be set to any given position rather than having to modulate it with the foot. Maybe I'll put the automatic transmission lever back in and connect it to the cable to tighten the rope. I'll change it so it can be pulled back (tighter) readily, but will only move forward (looser) if the button is pressed. I think this sounds like the ticket. (No linkages to ignition key or to brake... then again, maybe it should have...?)

Drive Belts

   For the motorbike, the Sprint car, and the electric outboard from scratch, it occurred to me that instead of chain drives, belt drives (maybe toothed) might be better. On the outboard, potentially a smaller pulley might be used, narrowing the leg. The Wikipedia article on belt drives says that improvements in belt engineering now allows belt drives where previously only chains or gears would suffice... like, maybe, in automotive drive units, where they could make everything more efficient. Nobody seemed to have any special 'high power' V-belts.
   The high efficiency figures surprised me: "90-98%, usually 95%". They have high tolerance for misalignment (ideal for DIY), and are inexpensive. Clutch action can be had by releasing belt tension. Different speeds can be obtained by step or tapered pulleys. Toothed synchronous ('timing') belts need the lowest tension and are generally the most efficient.

   I've never thought before except in terms of gears or chains, knowing that V-belts on small diameter pulleys have considerable friction -- despite recently seeing the timing belt in the Sprint engine, and knowing how much better those are than the old timing chains. Why have belts not revolutionized automotive transmissions? It's probably inertia - so many parts of the transmission would have to be changed at the same time. It can't be approached piecemeal, since present parts run in oil and belts can't be in oil. Funny how slow we so often are to catch on to real opportunities created by advancing technology! The ever innovative bicycle world is first as usual. (see foto)

   My original thought had been a flat, ribbed or multigroove belt that could use an idler wheel for a clutch. Thus a clutch on the belt, probably manual, would replace the centrifugal clutch. Toothed belts would be better in general, but aren't amenable to being clutched.
   Another thought, on reading the Wikipedia article, is to use a "flying rope". The ends of a wire cable could be silver soldered(?) together to make it a loop. Polypropylene rope might be good if the ends can be fused together well. The diagonal strands in the cable would grip a textured pulley without slipping (like the teeth of a toothed belt), but would more easily slip to be clutch driven. I'd have to look into pulley diameters versus cable diameters versus load capability. The PP rope would flex better. (I adapted this idea for the slipping gear clutch system.)
   In fact, couldn't textured pulleys be used to prevent slippage of belts having any flat bottom surface? -- or would that just cause fast wear?



Magnetic Motion Devices

   The drawing last month showed how if a rotor had magnets facing so they would all try to turn clockwise, the entire rotor would try to turn clockwise. In order to keep them thus oriented, they had to be flipped around half way between north and south on both halves of their journey.
   I cut a light 12.5" diameter disk of thin acrylic plastic and scored the center point with a drill. At 120º from each other I hung three magnets by putting a steel bolt on the top of the plastic, which attracted the magnet and held it in place.
   I drilled a hole in a piece of wood and stuck a drill bit in it, but the device didn't work. Then I took out the drill bit and stuck in the compass I'd marked the disk outline with, sharp point up. This gave better results.

   When one of the magnets between magnetic north and south was turned around, the disk rotated 1/6 of a turn. Then the one on the opposite side was midway, and reversing that one caused another 1/6th turn. Then the next magnet was half way on the first side again, and the process repeated. Sure enough, each magnet was being reversed half way between north and south as it arrived at that point, and except for having to reverse the magnets by hand, the disk would have had continual rotation. That demonstrated the first, and rather obvious part of the operating theory.
   The next part would be harder: have the magnets flip around by themselves at the half way points. The forces being slight, friction would have to be almost nothing, and the force needed to flip the magnet would have to be very small to prevent it from stopping the rotor.

Origin of the Theromomagnetic Theory

   But what if, instead of the Earth's linear field, magnets were placed all around the rotor with their north faces facing the rotor? Then essentially, north would be coming from the outside and south from the inside, and with all the magnets on the rotor facing the same way, they would all be trying to twist the same direction. It started sounding more and more like perpetual motion... but why wouldn't it work?
   Someone named Howard Johnson took out a patent for a perpetual magnetic motor in the 1980's, and indeed he took out several related patents. In the patent he was ranting on something about unpaired electrons from which energy could be extracted, and ferromagnets being a form of superconductor. It was either BS or way over my head - I'm suspicious that it was probably the latter.
   On the other hand, I haven't heard that anyone has successfully repeated the results... except... someone told me one magnet motor in a patent office successfully ran for 30 years. This was reputed to have obtained its energy from very gradual demagnetization of the magnets. But for a machine to continue working for so long from such a minute energy source stretches credulity as much as the idea of magnetic perpetual motion.
   I know a lot of people have tried and failed to produce something that works, and especially something that one can extract useful energy from. A dozen youtube videos later and seeing no one intelligibly explain where the energy is supposed to come from or demonstrate a credible working unit could understandably leave one skeptical.
   And yet... there just might be something there, somewhere. Some source of nuclear energy in the 'superconductive', 'unpaired electrons' within ferromagnetic materials that could be harvested. Or was that just like saying a diode should generate electricity because it only pushes electrons through one way?

   Then I found, or someone send me a link to, a video of a spinning magnet machine that looked genuine. As described in Month in Brief above, it seemed to have the essential elements, carefully constructed.



   Magnetically it looked like it should work, and the video looked good, but nothing so far had comprehendably explained to me where the energy would come from to move a rotor and keep it moving. I finally came up with my own theory:

   We see an apparently inert object, and conclude that it has no energy that can be harnessed. But its atoms are all vibrating. The extent of this vibration is proportional to its temperature - is its temperature, its internal thermal energy. Vibration stops only at absolute zero. My theory that magnetic actions take these vibrations and convert them to large scale directional force, magnetism, with the potential we observe for the movement of magnets and magnetic objects, is expanded above in April in Brief.
   The rotation of the rotor in a magnet machine is simply a cyclic repetitive motion of the same forces and energies that are always invoked when magnets act.

A test to prove the theory

   If this is the case, the magnets should drop in temperature as they continually turn a rotor. It might, or might not, be enough to measure.
   Someone who seemed to have looked at and studied magnet machines said it was indeed the case that they got cold when running - and also that no one understood why.

   Thus a test to prove the theory suggests itself: Take a supermagnet and put a temperature sensor on it. Then take an electromagnet with a core that's magnetically attracted. Set it up with the magnet swinging on a hinge, with a proximity sensor so that as it gets very close to the electomagnet, the coil turns on for a moment and repels it away.
   The electromagnet (I'll use a motor coil) will heat electrically in excess of any other factor. The supermagnet will be expending energy moving in both directions, so its temperature should drop proportionally to the amount of work it has done.

   At first I thought this suggested a new way to make a refrigerator. Put the magnet inside, and the electromagnet outside, of a thin, nonmagnetic fridge wall. Then I realized a fridge could probably be made to generate electricity instead of using it: just put a magnet machine inside. Let it run a generator and convert the heat in the fridge into electricity. Electricity from a quieter fridge with no ozone depleting gas that runs for free - it can't get much better than that!

   The drop in temperature in a magnet machine would of course be made up from the surroundings, which are heated by the sun. Thus, the energy of the magnetic machine is, indirectly, solar energy.

   If the theory was right, the question was still, did I have or could I come up with, a workable magnet machine? It seemed there was nothing for it but to try it out.

Take 1

   For the 'all north magnets' design idea, that wouldn't be hard - in fact, much easier than trying to have magnets pivot. My three magnets on the plastic disk with the compass point would be a fair test armature. In the end I simply placed the outer magnets all around in a circle, "Magnethenge".
   It didn't work as I made it. Motive force at the stator magnets turned to anti-motive force between them and everything canceled out. (including with a prime number of surrounding magnets, and regardless of the flux gaps.) I think that with no south pole in the center, the flux lines from the north poles all facing in probably bend around and come out again between magnets.

Take 2
   What would happen if the armature magnets could pivot up and down on arms, so that in the forward propulsion area they were in line, but in the repelling zone they were above or below the strong flux zone? Then there should be net rotary motive force - if it didn't happen to make an equal or greater slowing force to fling the magnets out of the magnetic path. This was similar to an idea I worked on in a couple of versions for a magnetic torque converter early on, with interacting supermagnets. I wanted them to pull the output ahead, but not back again, as the motor rotor passed, so I held them back with springs (first type; not finished) or twisted them 90º (second type; was built) to prevent attraction until they were right across from each other. (Although it worked in essence, it didn't provide car moving torque, and it wasn't constructed with turning itself in mind.)
   As I did the first one of these converters, I realized there was motive force in one direction but not the other. That sounded like "perpetual motion". Since I didn't believe in perpetual motion, I figured I must have figured something wrong, even tho I couldn't see what it was. How many people have done that, I wonder, and missed the opportunity? If you don't believe something is possible, chances are pretty remote that you'll take the trouble to design and build a working model to demonstrate it.

   The 'take 2' unit was made in a marathon session occupying the whole day and evening of the 13th. Woods are good materials for this sort of prototype since they are beautiful, structural, easy to fashion, and have little magnetic effect.
   The body was a piece of eastern oak veneer particleboard that used to be a coffee table top, cut round 2' in diameter, except a corner was left to form a carrying handle. From the 3/4" hexagonal fir plywood center hub, it had three hinged arms of lightweight figured lombardy poplar each with a magnet in a laburnum holder, and two stator magnets (laburnum) at opposite ends underneath the armature. Each arm with its magnet on the end could rise up on the hinge, out of the flux path of the stationary magnet.

   It took too much force to raise the heavy arms. (Shouldn't have used the laburnum? But the magnets aren't light either.) But the center bearing had a little play, and I noticed the whole armature tilted a bit before an arm started to rise. This modified the plan. I loosened the coupling of the center axle so that the whole armature could tilt back and forth without the arm hinges moving. That way, it was gravitationally balanced. Lifting one magnet lowered the others, and it took little force to lift the magnet passing over a stator magnet.
   In theory, the impulse from one magnet as it passed a stator magnet should be enough to raise the next magnet approaching the other stator magnet. (obviously, there had to be an odd number of armature magnets with two stator magnets, so only one arm would need to rise at a time.) But with only three magnets on the armature, it didn't look like there would be sufficient force to keep it turning, so I didn't finish it. Once the magnet was raised, it had friction against the track it rode on added to the slight repulsion of the stator magnet as it approached. (Tho this repulsion was much reduced by the raised height.) It stopped without reaching its stator magnet and dropping to provide the next impulse of force.

Take 3

   Next would be 5 magnets. It would be easier since only a single piece armature body was needed - no hinges - and since 3 magnet holders were already made. But it might also need 4 stationary magnets.

   On the 14th I made two more magnet holders. Then I realized that instead of two magnets on the stator and five on arms of the rotor, it could as easily be the other way around. A rotor with just two arms would be much simpler. After leaving the project for a few days for other activities, I decided that the two ended arm piece could hold the armature magnets, so on the 19th I mounted all 7 magnets and holders around the base piece for the stator.
   At the same time I realized that the machine would be more likely to succeed if the rotating part had an inertial mass, a flywheel, to help prevent it from stopping in those brief zones where it was being pushed backwards a little bit. But it didn't need to be round, only heavy. I used a piece of cambodian rosewood - density .95 - and mounted it on the center axle, below where the magnetic arm mounted and at 90º to it.

   I had thought to make the machine self-starting, but with the 'flywheel' it would probably need a push to get it going. Then I thought about putting another arm on it at right angles to the first. The up-down movements of one ideally wouldn't affect those of the other, but they would be getting thrust at different times. If it didn't work with one arm but looked promising, two arms might make the difference. Roughly, one of the arms would be thrusting much of the time if not most or all the time.

   On the 21st, I tried a few things out with someone interested in helping, even with the terms being: no money, no ownership, no patents, I publish all results. It seemed 7 magnets was actually too many. The up-down waving of the arm would have to be too steep. I took it apart and redid it with 5.
   My helper came up with the interesting idea of putting a magnet ahead of each stator magnet lower down. That one would push the rotor magnet up at the point where it was supposed to start to rise, instead of needing a ramp. This indeed seemed to much reduce the force needed to get an arm to cross over a stator magnet. There we left it for the day.

Take 4

   The next day I started thinking of the first design again, with the magnets flipping around. If I took the same stator with the 5 magnets, but had rotor magnets that could be flipped, what would happen?
   I took a magnet and dragged it on courses around one stator magnet by hand, trying to come up with a path of least resistance that would take the least amount of energy to flip. I came up with this:

   On approach to the stator magnet, the rotor magnet is being attracted. When the 'foot' reaches the trip block, it will cause the magnet to flip up, over the stator magnet, and come down on the other side. The flipped magnet would then repel away from the the stator magnet. This way, it provides thrust both on the approach and the departure.
   Furthermore, if the pivot point is as shown, the magnets can be directly in line except during the flip. Since it flips over top of the stator magnet, they don't hit, and also, if all is carefully arranged, it will to a considerable extent go with the natural flux lines of the stator magnet and take far less force to flip than if it was flipped on its own center axis.

   The "trip post" concept then got extended to a "trip fence" holding the magnet flipped until midway between each two stator magnets. After release, the magnet would magnetically flip back to its original orientation and be attracted to the next stator magnet.

   This was starting to look like a machine that would not simply demo the idea (my original plan), but turn a generator and produce significant power. (No, I don't mean anything like enough to cancel my electric service... not from this machine.)
   Next I realized that the magnets might be turned sideways and flip radially instead of axially, and that the would make less crosswise twisting stress on the rotor arm or disc. A minor advantage would be that the momentary backwards force as the magnet flipped would be effectively at a slightly smaller radius, creating less backwards torque. But it would need all new magnet mountings for the stator and I decided to save the idea for later.
   On the 27th I figured that if there were 3 magnets at 120º on the armature and 4 at 90º on the stator, two of the magnets would be providing thrust (one repelling from the magnet behind, the other attracting to the magnet in front) at the moment the third one was flipping and momentarily thrusting backwards. Thus in this "3 phase" design the drive would be independent of, or at least less dependent on, momentum to carry it past the flip point of each magnet.
   In diagram 1, phase "A" is flipping at the bottom magnet, while "B" is repelling from the left magnet and "C" is attracting to the right magnet, both "B" and "C" providing thrust. In 2, "A" is repelling away repelling away (as "C" flips and "B" attracts). Between 2 and 3, "A" reaches the midway point and flips back over (while "B" attracts to the top magnet and "C" repels from the right one). In 3, "A" is attracting to the left hand magnet (as "B" flips at the top magnet and "C" repels).
   With the half steps in between that I didn't show, it's the familiar 6 step coil activation sequence of the solid state 3 phase brushless motor controller in another form, each step being 15º of rotation and being repeated four times per rotation for the four stator magnets.



   While flipping over doubles the thrust by attracting while approaching a stator magnet and repelling after passing it, I still had some concerns that there'd be considerable backthrust when the magnets flip at the stator magnets - perhaps even enough to stall the machine. Perhaps this magnet flipping design should be combined with the vertical oscillation of design #3, to get the armature magnet well clear of the stator magnet when it's crossing it and flipping over.
   This was getting complicated! And yet it appeared to be the best approach. After all... I want it to pass the feather test. Better still is if it can make 20 or 30 watts or more.
   On May first it occurred to me that magnets with square profiles instead of rectangular would have substantially less magnetic resistance to flipping over, which would probably solve the anticipated problem without resorting to the extreme of combining design #3 with #4. Undoubtedly it's worth ordering some square cross section magnets rather than building with the rectangular ones.



Turquoise Battery Project

Changhong is reluctant

   The nickel-iron flooded cell battery producing equipment was created by Edison and Jungner, leading experimental minds a century ago, and it was cutting edge at the time. If someone had told them how, they would have leapt at the chance to try making 2 volt cells instead of 1.2 volt.
   But I can't get the present owner, Changhong Batteries, to make even a few NiMn cells to see for themselves how good they are. I've never actually seen the equipment, but considering they use the same setup for NiFe, NiCd and NiMH, it surely couldn't be a big ordeal to do some small batch of Mn electrodes instead. The only real difference is they have to zinc plate the steel pockets - or have some plated for them - instead of nickel plating them.
   Instead, I have to somehow make really practical Mn negatrodes at home and then collect data by running months of tests in their cells but with my Mn electrodes before they'll look at it. Then they'll wonder why they would have ever have sat idle for so long before starting to make superior batteries, for such a paltry reason. And someone just might beat them to it - there are finance people interested.

Better conductivity - negatrodes

   With the battery chemie - and indeed more than one chemie - working, conductivity seems to be the prime focus for DIY cells. The first thing was that a single post in the middle of a fat electrode seemed to have insufficient conductivity to be practical. Of course, most batteries have rather thin plates of some sort with large surface areas to present the maximum area of interface between electrodes.

   For flooded pocket cells, it seemed that the better way to make the negatrodes would be of perforated zinc coated steel, just about the way they've been made since 1906 or so except for the coating. Whether they could be practically made as square cylinders, or should be flat plates, is still debatable, since the cylinders are definitely easier to compact the manganese into. The plates would have the highest conductivity. The problem with either, of course, is perforating steel with zillions of fine holes. I don't think either the sewing machine or the laser diode would be up to it. ...But a new, probably better, idea is shown below.

Sintered Zinc + MnO2: an alternative negatrode construction

   I got out the book Alkaline Storage Batteries, and started reading the section on making negative electrodes, hoping to find some practical way to make perforations in thin steel sheet. Nothing was explained. There was a crappy B & W photo of the perforator that revealed nothing. People suggested a laser, and waterjet cutting, but given that waterjet sounded impractical and the power the laser would doubtless need, these didn't seem like promising solutions. There were three sections describing different variations of pocket electrodes... then a bit describing a 1950's sintered copper-iron electrode. A few millimeters thickness of iron and copper powders were pressed together into a porous block around a stretched fine metal mesh. Then they were sintered in an oven to get the copper particles to bond together better.
   It occurred to me that this same technique might be used with zinc powder and manganese powder, or perhaps manganese oxide powder (with the 1% stibnite of course), to make a manganese electrode with a sintered zinc current collector. With its low melting temperature, zinc can be sintered in the kitchen oven. I'm inclined to try the idea, with just a zinc coated wire pressed into it - I suspect the conductivity of the sintered zinc powder should be high enough without a mesh. (Tho I'm wondering why Salauze bothered with a mesh in the copper-iron mix.)
   The 'ideal range' according to Salauze is 50% copper. Edison did one early on with 64% iron and 30% copper, adding 6% mercury oxide to the mix. The ratio for zinc powder and MnO2, or zinc powder and manganese powder, will have to be played with to find the lowest percentage of zinc that still works well.

   Obviously the high proportion of zinc that would seem to be necessary would dilute the active material considerably, decreasing the energy density. However, this construction needs no thin steel plate with holes punched in it, so it may be considerably more accessible to the DIY battery maker - including me. I decided to try it.

   Last time I tried to get fine zinc powder, I found it in USA, but the seller wouldn't ship to Canada so I couldn't buy it. This time, the search on eBay came up with the same seller, but I used "Clipper Direct" as the shipping address, to have it mailed to Seattle and have the good fairy bring it across the strait to Victoria. It arrived on May 3rd.

Then, what about a good positrode?

   For these, the perforated plastic pockets still seem like the right idea. However, instead of a post running up the middle, perhaps a better idea would be to coat the inside of the "finished" cylinder (?) with grafpoxy, and then make the perforation holes with the laser burner through both the PVC and the grafpoxy. How the terminal will attach is still a puzzle, but there should be connection to the electrode substance all the way around the outside.

   Then I had the idea to mix graphite (as much as feasible) with ABS plastic, "grafABS", make injection molded plastic pockets - square or rectangular cylinders or hollow plates - and minutely perforate them with the burning laser diode. A hollow "chimney" molded in one spot would stick up through the top of the cell, and would have a bolt screwed into the top for the terminal post. The slightly flexible ABS wouldn't crack when the electrode powder is hammered in, as I expect grafpoxy would.

   However, I made a sheet of grafpoxy abut the right thickness, rolled out between two sheets of polyethylene, and the resistance readings were disappointingly high. There were no readings at all unless the surface was scraped, and then they got higher and higher with distance between probes, indicating considerable internal resistance rather than just meter probe contact resistance.
   If ABS was similar, the injection molding could be a costly flop. Painted on grafpoxy works not badly, but rolled out, even if the surface is scraped, it seems poor.
   However, the epoxy I used was starting to set. (It was left over from making a motor part.) I got the graphite mixed in, but it may not have been well distributed. I should try again with fresh epoxy.
   Also I'd like to try a variation on the theme. If I roll out a grafpoxy sheet and then sprinkle more loose graphite on top, it may make for low contact resistance. The trouble with that idea is I roll it between two sheets of polyethylene, and they're very well stuck on until the epoxy sets.

   I've decided to dissolve some ABS in methylene chloride and add graphite to try out the grafABS idea but haven't done it yet. The other way would be to heat some in the oven in an airtight container that I can somehow churn to mix in the graphite. ABS seems very thick even at 350ºf - it retains its form rather than flowing. Perhaps at 450º or 500º it would flow better. (hence keeping out the air lest it oxidize or even catch fire at those temperatures.)
   If I got that far, perhaps there would be some way to pump the thick liquid into an injection mold myself. It all sounds hard to do.

   On the 24th I conceived another idea: make plastic pockets, and stick in "bars" of expanded graphite, extending up the back of a narrow pocket from the bottom, out the top of the electrode and then the cell, to be sealed with ?? and connected externally. At least the expanded graphite has very low resistance. As the bars swelled, they should press harder on the electrode substance, and hopefully not gradually lose contact as in previous arrangements. That evening I made a small flat plate electrode shell in that style to try out. It had two pockets 1/2" wide with two 1/2" x 1mm thick bars, leaving space for about 2mm thick electrode substance. The perforations were only on the front faces of each pocket, so it wasn't much sewing. (I really must get the laser diodes mounted on the CNC machine.) The part weighed 14 grams, and would only hold 3 or 4 grams of substance. This wouldn't make for good energy density!

Figuring out the distribution of this pig, approximate weights were:
- back face, .063" ABS - 4.5g
- front face, .030" PVC - 2.5g
- frame was 1/8" ABS about 3/16" wide - 3g
- the two bars of graphite each weighed 2 grams.

Well... If the back wall was also the battery wall it would help... assuming the battery was to be only 2 electrodes wide. To have more electrodes in the middle, they might be made double width with perforated faces on both sides: 2.5g*2 (perf faces) + 5g (thicker frames) + 2*2g (graphite bars) = 14g again, but for twice as much electrode, 6 or 8 grams worth. They'd have to be filled very carefully, compacting a little electrode substance on each side of the graphite alternately. Thinner graphite bars would help. So would injection molded parts, which could have thin frames that would put the pockets closer together with little waste space and minimal material.
   Possibly I could also try conductive plastic for the backs, the fronts, the frames, or have conductive plastic bars instead of graphite.
   There has to be a good answer out there somewhere. In 1897, alkaline cells almost went by the wayside until Waldemar Jungner tried every metal to see if anything wouldn't corrode away and found that nickel (and only nickel) had some strange immunity to anodic (positrode) corrosion in strong alkaline solution (but not in weaker or neutral solution).

   Only graphite (or "carbon black" if I found a source of it) seems to work in weaker alkalinity, and it would seem to be just a matter of finding a stable, practical and economical form of it, or of graphited plastic that has low resistance. If this can be found, it should make KOH alkaline cells cheaper too, since the nickel presently used has become rather costly even just for plating. (Canada quit making nickel nickels 30 years ago.)



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Victoria BC